JUSTIN’S FAVORITES OF 2012:
Favorite Super-hero Book of 2012: This may be a bit premature, but the Marvel NOW! relaunch of Captain America stands head and shoulders above any other new superhero book for me this year. It manages to be kitschy and modern all at once, a post-millennial nod to Jack Kirby’s near autonomous 1970s run that would surely send the King over the moon. I haven’t read a single issue of a comic book so many times this year; I think my current tally is closing in on a baker’s dozen. Rick Remender deserves a big ol’ hug. If he’d come to Heroes Con, he’d get one.
Favorite Non-Superhero Book of 2012: Amid all the pomp and pageantry of Before Watchmen, New 52 crossovers, AvX, Marvel NOW!, et al., the little guys are easily lost in the shuffle (except when they make a major splash with something like Vaughan and Staples’ seductive fable Saga). Still, Image saw fit to run a second series of David Hine and Shaky Kane’s beautifully bizarre pop culture deconstruction Bulletproof Coffin (this volume subtitled Disinterred). A fractured narrative frames morbid iconography, producing some of the more enveloping sequential experiments of recent memory. Prime example: issue five, consisting of a series of 84 panels, which the reader can select in any order to customize their reading experience. Choice stuff.
Favorite Original Graphic Novel of 2012: Only Skin, by Sean Ford. This book is admittedly obscure, published by Secret Acres and released to nonexistent fanfare. Within its pages you’ll find an apocalyptic crisis bearing down on an isolated, rural town, involving mysterious ghosts and shenanigans that blend elements of Lord of the Flies and Children of the Corn. Don’t let that rote indie cartooning put you off; both the story and characterization are compelling enough to infuse Ford’s austere style with increased heft. A severely underrated gem.
Favorite All Ages Book of 2012: Adventure Time is cool and all, but for my money, Bravest Warriors knocked it out of the park. It benefits from being a comic book first; that is, it wasn’t spun off from an animated series that it can be compared to unfavorably. Pendleton Ward adopts Voltronesque sci-fi tropes to produce another charming hit. Good on ‘im.
Favorite Strip Collection 2012: Krent Able’s Big Book of Mischief collects the author’s work from British music rag The Stool Pigeon. Whether you’re a music fan or you just enjoy twisted parodies, there’s something for you here. You’ll delight at the hilarious and gruesome misadventures of some of pop’s reigning royalty, including Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, and my own beloved Morrissey. Able’s style lands somewhere between Ed Piskor and Charles Burns, and his sense of humor is ruthless. Just ask his editor.